FLORIDA - GOOD SAMARITAN ACT

January 1, 2008

Florida state laws and regulations that affect your medical practice

1. What is the Good Samaritan Act and how does it affect a physician who renders care in an emergency situation?

Florida's Good Samaritan Act was enacted to encourage health care practitioners to provide necessary emergency care to all persons without fear of litigation.

(a) Any person, including those licensed to practice medicine, who gratuitously and in good faith renders emergency care or treatment either in direct response to emergency situations related to and arising out of a public health emergency; a state of emergency; or at the scene of an emergency outside of a hospital, doctor's office, or other place having proper medical equipment, without objection of the injured victim or victims thereof shall not be held liable for any civil damages as a result of such care or treatment or as a result of any act or failure to act in providing or arranging further medical treatment where the person acts as an ordinary reasonably prudent person would have acted under the same or similar circumstances.

(c) Immunity from civil liability applies to damages as a result of any act or omission of providing medical care or treatment, including diagnosis:

1. Which occurs prior to the time the patient is stabilized and is capable of receiving medical treatment as a nonemergency patient, unless surgery is required as a result of the emergency within a reasonable time after the patient is stabilized, in which case the immunity applices to any act or omission of providing medical care or treatment which occurs prior to the stabilization of the patient following the surgery.

2. Which is related to the original medical emergency.

(d) "Reckless disregard" as it applies to a given health care provider rendering emergency medical services shall be such conduct that a health care provider knew or should have known, at the time such services were rendered, created an unreasonable risk of injury so as to affect the life or health of another, and such risk was substantially greater than that which is necessary to make the conduct negligent.

(e) Every emergency care facility granted immunity shall accept and treat all emergency care patients within the operational capacity of such facility without regard to ability to pay, including patients transferred from another emergency care facility or other health care provider. The failure of an emergency care facility to comply with these provisions constitutes grounds for the department to initiate disciplinary action against the facility.

(f) Any health care practitioner who is in a hospital attending to a patient of his or her practice or for business or personal reasons unrelated to direct patient care, and who voluntarily responds to provide care or treatment to a patient with whom at that time the practitioner does not have a then-existing health care patient-practitioner relationship, and when such care or treatment is necessitated by a sudden or unexpected situation or by an occurrence that demands immediate medical attention, shall not be held liable for any civil damages as a result of any act or omission relative to that care or treatment, unless that care or treatment is proven to amount to conduct that is either willful and wanton and would likely result in injury so as to affect the life or health of another.

(g) Immunity does not apply to damages as a result of any act or omission of providing medical care or treatment unrelated to the original situation that demanded immediate medical attention.

(h) Any person whose acts or omissions are not otherwise covered above and who participates in emergency response activities under the direction of or in connection with a community emergency response team, local emergency management agencies, the Division of Emergency Management of the Department of Community Affairs, or the Federal Emergency Management Agency is not liable for any civil damages as a result of care, treatment or services provided gratuitously in such capacity and resulting from any act or failure to act in such capacity in providing or arranging further care, treatment or services, if such person acts as a reasonably prudent person would have acted under the same or similar circumstances.

(i) Any person, including those licensed to practice veterinary medicine, who gratuitously and in good faith renders emergency care or treatment to an injured animal at the scene of an emergency on or adjacent to a roadway shall not be held liable for any civil damages as a result of such care or treatment or as a result of any act or failure to act in providing or arranging future medical treatment where the person acts as an ordinary reasonably prudent person would have acted under the same or similar circumstances.

F.S.A. § 768.13

Copyright Kern Augustine Conroy and Schoppmann, P.C. Used with permission.